Donald Trump tried to press the President of Mexico to stop saying publicly that the Mexican government would never pay for the construction of a wall along the US’s southern border.

Mr Trump had promised during his presidential campaign that he would build a border wall, but the project has faced contracting delays and funding issues since he was sworn into office in January.

In a call with Mr Trump on 27 January, a week after the US leader’s inauguration, President Enrique Peña Nieto said his “position has been and will continue to be very firm” that Mexico cannot pay for the continuous barrier along its 2,000-mile border with the US.

“You cannot say that to the press,” Mr Trump replied, according to a transcript of their conversation obtained by the Washington Post. “The press is going to go with that and I cannot live with that. You cannot say that to the press because I cannot negotiate under those circumstances.”

Mr Trump’s comments appear to demonstrate an overriding concern for how the public would view him. He seemed to acknowledge that his threats during his campaign to make Mexico pay for the wall had cornered him politically. “I have to have Mexico pay for the wall – I have to,” he said. “I have been talking about it for a two-year period.”

Mr Trump said he was willing to tell the press that the US was negotiating over the payment of the wall with Mexico if journalists ask about the issue.

People “are going to say, ‘who is going to pay for the wall, Mr President?’ to both of us, and we should both say, ‘we will work it out,’” Mr Trump said. “It will work out in the formula somehow. As opposed to you saying, ‘we will not pay’ and me saying, ‘we will not pay.’”

“Believe it or not, this is the least important thing that we are talking about, but politically this might be the most important talk about,” Mr Trump later added. “But in terms of dollars – or pesos – it is the least important thing.”

Mr Trump previously said the wall would cost $8bn to build, but the Department of Homeland Security estimates it would cost $21.6bn.

“I know how to build very inexpensively, so it will be much lower than these numbers I am being presented with, and it will be a better wall and it will look nice,” the former real estate mogul said. “And it will do the job.” Via Independent

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